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Terms and Conditions: the graphic novel by R. Sikoryak

May 8, 2017

Remember the 1994 Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock joint Speed? It was an action film pitched to film executives and the public alike as “Die Hard on a bus.” 

Taking something familiar (like Die Hard) and placing it in a new context (like a bus) is a tried and true equation for success used all throughout popular culture, but unlike the high school math you learned but never used, there are multiple ways of achieving the desired solution.

Artist R. Sikoryak attacks this equation with a pen, ink, and a wit as dry as a long-winded legal document. In fact, in his new book, Terms and Conditions, Sikoryak mimics the art style of 94 different comic book artists to illustrate the full, unabridged text of a legal document: Apple’s iTunes Terms and Conditions document. It’s a mixture of the familiar with the almost-familiar because, despite their ubiquity, no one really reads the services agreements on websites, apps, or devices. With Sikoryak in charge, you might want to.   

Page after page, the effect is astounding. Apple's iconic founder Steve Jobs guides us through this legal wonderland, his image morphing into beloved comic characters like Ziggy, as well as characters from Scott Pilgrim, My Little Pony, and the Walking Dead, and more.

The juxtaposition of Sikoryak’s malleable style with the inane doublespeak of Apple’s lawyers is hilarious whether you’re familiar with comic book history or not. For those who don’t know the difference between a Todd McFarlane page and a Lynda Barry page, there’s a handy guide at the end of the book detailing the source material for each page that serves as a reading list for the comics novice.

Terms and Conditions is a brilliant satire which targets both the hall of mirrors companies employ to protect their rights, and the lengths they’ll go to in order to infringe upon ours. It’s a fascinating document of our times, and hilarious to boot.

Comic book panel of man expressing horror avatar


Jeremy Estes has worked for Nashville Public Library since 2008. He loves comic books and dislikes the term “graphic novels”. He hosts Panel Discussion, a comics book club for adults, on the first Wednesday of the month at 12pm at the Main Library.